Saturday, February 11, 2017

McCurdy wins and Veltcheva goes 17:35 at Run For The Cookies

In Tallahassee, Florida Girl Scout Cookie season starts in February. If you want cookies, you could wait at home and hope a pint-sized entrepreneur knocks on you door to sell you a few boxes. Alternatively you could drop by the grocery store and see if the Scouts have set up a cookie table outside. One sure way of scoring some cookies, though, is to do the Run For The Cookies 5K, where each athlete who enters gets a box. Hundreds did just that, showing up at the Tallahassee Community College campus on Saturday morning, 11 February 2017, for the 24th annual Run For The Cookies 5K. The fastest seeker of sweets was Matt McCurdy, who won the race in 16:27. The women's title went to twelve-year-old Ani Veltcheva, who placed seventh overall in 17:35.

Matt McCurdy
Matt McCurdy

The race started several minutes after 9:00 AM. Ani Veltcheva led coming off the starting line, but Matt McCurdy and Vince Molosky soon took over the lead. The two ran together through the first half of the race, leaving the rest of the field farther and farther behind. Then McCurdy struck.

"I made a move at about two miles," said McCurdy, a graduate student in mathematics at Florida State University. "I hadn't run the course before and I didn't want any surprises. At the two-mile mark I had seen everything so I went."

McCurdy opened up a quick gap on Molosky, then continued to steadily draw away. When McCurdy crossed the finish line in a winning 16:27, he had a 150-meter lead. While McCurdy was increasing his margin on the field, Christopher O'Kelley was moving closer to Molosky. O'Kelley never got near enough to challenge for second, though, and Molosky took the runner-up spot in 16:58. O'Kelley was third in 17:07, while Zach DeVeau placed fourth in 17:27.

Vince Molosky, Matt McCurdy
Vince Molosky and Matt McCurdy

Geb Kiros led the master runners from the start, but Mickey Moore and Gary Droze were closing in on him late in the race. Kiros held off those rivals to finish as the first master runner in the race, placing eighth overall in 17:42. Moore was right behind, ninth in 17:45, with Droze following, tenth in 17:46.

Just six days before his Cookie Run win, McCurdy had raced Gulf Winds Track Club's Tallahassee Half Marathon, 13.1-miles long.

"Too long!" said McCurdy. "That was my first and last half marathon."

McCurdy will stick with the five-kilometer distance for his next race, the Shamrock Scurry 5K on 4 March 2017.

Ani Veltcheva
Ani Veltcheva

McCurdy had run side-by-side with Molosky for most of the Cookie Run, but no one in the women's field could run with Ani Veltcheva. Veltcheva--a seventh-grader at Abraham Lincoln Middle School in Gainesville, Florida--actually led the entire field for the first few meters of the race. A few of the men overtook her, but none of the other women. Unchallenged, Veltcheva steadily built a 250-meter lead on her way to a 17:35 finish. Sheryl Rosen was second in the women's standings and fifteenth overall in 18:31. Brittney Barnes was the third woman and 21st overall in 19:26. Laura Reina was the first woman master and sixth female finisher, 43rd overall in 21:42.

17:35 is Veltcheva's best 5K performance yet, bettering the 17:44 she ran three weeks earlier in Saint Augustine at the Matanzas 5K. She's looking to trim a few more seconds, though. Veltcheva has her eye on the 5K world record for twelve-year-old girls.

"This was only two seconds off the world record," said Veltcheva. "So my goal is to break that before April."

Sheryl Rosen
Sheryl Rosen

Veltcheva will get her next chance at the record back home in Gainesville on 25 February 2017 at the Five Points Of Life 5K, where she is the defending women's champ. She does enjoy racing in Tallahassee, though.

"I really like the Tallahassee races because I have people to run against," said Veltcheva. "But the best part is that my sister goes to FSU. So after the race I get to spend the rest of the weekend with her."

405 athletes finished the 2017 Run For The Cookies 5K, with another 91 completing a one-mile fun run. Gulf Winds Track Club chip-timed the race.

Top Ten Men, 2017 Run For The Cookies 5K
  1. 16:27, Matthew McCurdy (M, 23)
  2. 16:58, Vince Molosky (M, 37)
  3. 17:07, Christopher O'Kelley (M, 23)
  4. 17:27, Zach Deveau (M, 29)
  5. 17:32, Ryan Truchelut (M, 31)
  6. 17:33, Thomas Howell (M, 20)
  7. 17:38, Jim Halley (M, 37)
  8. 17:42, Geb Kiros (M, 50)
  9. 17:45, Mickey Moore (M, 46)
  10. 17:46, Gary Droze (M, 55)

Top Ten Women, 2017 Run For The Cookies 5K
  1. 17:35, Ani Veltcheva (F, 12)
  2. 18:31, Sheryl Rosen (F, 32)
  3. 19:26, Brittney Barnes (F, 29)
  4. 21:05, Jillian Heddaeus (F, 33)
  5. 21:37, Laura McDermott (F, 37)
  6. 21:42, Laura Reina (F, 52)
  7. 22:04, Monica Judd (F, 42)
  8. 22:06, Paula O'Neill (F, 55)
  9. 22:15, Katherine Lee (F, 20)
  10. 22:15, Monica Toth (F, 28)

Run For The Cookies 5K champions, 1994 - 2017
19 February 199416:12, Gary Droze-118:51, Carrie Weyant-185
25 February 199515:42, Gary Droze-218:15, Jane Johnson186
24 February 199616:08, Gary Droze-319:57, Chateau Mangaroo175
22 February 199715:17, Gary Droze-419:02, Carrie Weyant-2150
28 February 199815:38, Jason Ritter17:29, Sarah Docter-Williams-1207
27 February 199916:17, David Ogletree17:38, Sarah Docter-Williams-2258
26 February 200016:23, Robert Pautienus17:53, Kim Winn294
24 February 200115:59, Kevin Danahy17:30, Sarah Docter-Williams-3231
23 February 200215:25, Lee Willis-116:18, Breeda Dennehy-Willis-1248
15 February 200315:49, Lee Willis-216:30, Breeda Dennehy-Willis-2152
14 February 200417:07, Timothy Bolton18:06, Sarah Docter-Williams-493
12 February 200516:23, Justin Jacobs17:43, Sarah Docter-Williams-5258
11 February 200616:49, Kyle Larson19:04, Stephanie Liles-1156
10 February 200715:53, Judson Cake19:06, Zika Rea386
9 February 200816:45, Tripp Southerland19:35, Stephanie Liles-2411
7 February 200916:16, Chris Lake-118:40, Audrey Hand550
13 February 201016:27, Chris Lake-218:11, Amy Hines-1432
12 February 201115:50, Kevin Sullivan19:02, Sheryl Rosen-1431
11 February 201216:07, Alex Smyth17:36, Amy Hines-2685
9 February 201316:00, Stanley Linton-117:43, Chelsi Woodruff602
8 February 201415:24, Stanley Linton-217:54, Carly Thomas369
14 February 201515:40, Remy Tamer18:04, Sheryl Rosen-2332
13 February 201617:15, Clayburn Milford18:53, Alexandra Midgett342
11 February 201716:27, Matthew McCurdy17:35, Ani Veltcheva405
The Run For The Cookies was held at Tallahassee Mall from 1994 to 1996,
and at Tallahassee Community College from 1997 to the present.
A big thank-you to Mark Priddy for his help in completing this summary.


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